The Anchorage, Alaska city skyline, photographed from across a stretch of flat water.

Paxson Woelber

Anchorage, Alaska’s Steep Hill has been forced to suspend operations after Wells Fargo bank called in the loan on the company’s building because they are a cannabis-related business. The closure leaves just two labs to test cannabis products for the entire state.

“We are sorry to announce that Steep Hill Alaska will be suspending cannabis testing operations on March 31, 2018. We have to relocate because Wells Fargo called in the loan on our building. They will foreclose if we do not move out — just because we are a cannabis business! We are looking for a new home and would be interested to hear of any potential locations. We are grateful to have served the Alaskan community for the past year. Thank you for all your support. We will be back.” – Steep Hill in a Thursday social media post

In an email to the Juneau Empire, David Kennedy, spokesman for Wells Fargo in Alaska, attributed the bank’s action to cannabis’ status as a Schedule I drug under federal law.

“It is currently Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank marijuana businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal.” – Kennedy to the Empire

Anchorage’s CannTest and Wasilla’s New Frontier Research are now tasked with testing cannabis products for all of the state’s operators. New Frontier has not yet held its grand opening but is already accepting samples for testing after its license was finalized Mar. 14.

Alaska Marijuana Control Board member Brandon Emmett told the Empire that he expects the effects of the closure will be limited because CannTest has the capacity to handle the state demand.

“The businesses that use Steep Hill are going to be inconvenienced … obviously Steep Hill is going to be extremely inconvenienced, but as far as the industry as a whole is concerned, I don’t think it will be a major issue.” – Emmett to the Empire

Steep Hill CEO Brian Coyle said Wells Fargo should follow Alaskan laws if they are going to do business in the state.

“To me, Wells Fargo is the real bad guy here. They could give a shit about Alaska. Only 700,000 people in Alaska; that’s less than the city of San Francisco.” – Coyle to the Empire

Steep Hill was one of the first two labs licensed by the state.

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